Among the 50 states in the United States, Maryland is amongst those with the least number of local governments. Local government typically is county government for much of Maryland. The twenty three counties in Maryland are Allegany, Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Calvert, Caroline, Carroll, Cecil, Charles, Dorchester, Frederick, Garrett, Harford, Howard, Kent, Montgomery, Prince George's, Queen Anne's, St. Mary's, Somerset, Talbot, Washington, Wicomico and Worcester. Three forms of government exist in Maryland counties. They are county commissioners, code home rule, and charter. With the adoption of the Maryland Constitution of 1851, Baltimore City has been regarded on par with county jurisdictions, although it is a municipality.
The General Assembly is authorized to legislate for the county under county commissioners' form of government. The executive and legislative functions as defined by state law are carried out by a board of county commissioners. The board may also enact ordinances. Maryland's eight counties, which include Calvert, Carroll, Cecil, Frederick, Garrett, St. Mary's, Somerset, and Washington, operate under this form of government.
Counties have had the option of governing under code home rule since 1915. This form of government allows the counties to exercise broad local legislative authority. Six of Maryland's counties have chosen to adopt code home rule government. They are Allegany, Caroline, Charles, Kent, Queen Anne's and Worcester.
The charter form of government separates the executive branch from the legislative branch. Usually, this form of government consists of a county executive and a county council. Maryland's charter counties include Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Dorchester, Harford, Howard, Montgomery, Prince George's, Talbot and Wicomico.
In 1971, the Maryland Association of Counties was incorporated as a non-profit corporation. It is a direct descendant of the State Association of County Commissioners of Maryland. The association is located in the historic district of Annapolis. An executive director and six staff members administer the routine operations of the organization. It is governed by a 15-member board of directors and executive committee. Maryland Association of Counties supports county government interests in individual states.